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One Evening In London

March 11, 2013

Somewhere in London

Just the usual afternoon. The weather was wet and damp once more, and the summer had long since passed, a distant memory in the mind of those who lived in the city. Streaks of sunlight sometimes squeezed through a gap in the clouds, but the year had forgotten summer. The buildings would light up from the reflection of the sun burning its warm touch upon the pavements. From his flat in East London, Perry Mayweather could see the clouds already forming, like swirling masses of smoke. As the traffic passed by, Perry couldn’t help but think things seemed to be a bit too quiet today. But then Sunday’s rarely threw out anything of interest in his life, particularly these days. Something does not feel right about this morning.

He was right to be nervous. Ever since he woke from his nightmare, he could feel a tingling down his arms, and this morning, down his back. It was like he woke from a nightmare and was only just feeling the cold stabbing of the events. Like, the world itself was the nightmare. In the back of his mind only a few things really stood out; he was yet to see his daughter, Amy, who was living with her mother in Chelsea. She was due to marry the very man who took her away from him, and destroyed their marriage. Now Amy was going to call him father. But that wasn’t it. He had seen Amy the week before, and Perry had no feeling that she was any different around him. On the contrary, Amy was indifferent the day she stayed over. As she always was. Maybe it was something that was coming with her then. Perhaps he was awaiting some bad news from the young girl when she came to his house this week. Or maybe I am just spending too much of my time worrying about something that is out of my control.

Another worry was work. Tomorrow, he and a few others were being considered for “promotion” at the office, and Perry had been waiting a long time to move from the junior desk he spent the last ten years sitting at. Every day was the same. Work piled on his desk, and he could spend seven hours compiling data for people in an office upstairs that he had very little chance of meeting. Work made him want to stay in bed, but every morning somehow, he was able to push himself out from beneath the sheets and make his commute to that hell hole. But he braved the walk. A walk because he didn’t get his driving license, and hated taking the bus.

He was tired of it. He was done. Perry wanted a holiday. No, he needed a holiday. Even as he watched the world go by through his living room window, he could feel the itch of feeling the warm sun on his face. But not the sun over England, no. He wanted to feel the warm sun from the skies of Jamaica, or somewhere remote in Europe, somewhere high. He smiled even as he thought about it. On the computer behind him, Perry had brought up the hot destinations points for the coming winter, a time when everyone was desperate to escape the lacklustre weather of England. Holding a warm coffee, he just felt that urge. Like an itch that needed to be scratched.

As he sipped on his coffee, he felt a cold chill go down his back. The pit of his stomach was stirring, like there were feelings buried deep down they were swimming around in the bottom of his gut. He put the coffee down and looked back at the door. For a moment, he was sure he could see a shadow pass over the light from the outer corridor, but his mind was playing tricks on him. He was completely unsettled, and he couldn’t think of a reason why.

Just as he reached for his coffee, there was a soft tapping at the door. His heart skipped a beat; for a moment, he could every sound in the room, his fingertips stroking the rim of the coffee mug. A minute passed, and there was only silenced returned. Sighing, he looked down at the coffee, startled by the sound of knuckles rapping against the wood again. Perry looked at his watch. It was close to two in the afternoon. Checking the clock on the wall as well, just to make sure, he looked a the door and swallowed.

What is wrong with me? Each footstep felt like a hundred miles. His stomach churned, noises seemed to blurt from his throat that he didn’t have control over. He never took his eyes off the door, not once, even as he reached out. Taking a deep breath, he turned the handle, and pulled the door open. The light from the corridor bled into the living room, and Perry winced, noticing the tall figure standing before him.

The first thing he noticed was the hair. He had very little hair, where he close-shaved it every month, and wore a goatee, with some side rough that looked recent. As he focused on the face, Perry noticed that glistening smoky look that seemed to come with that familiar face. It was like he was always asleep. His lips were thin, pressed together as he forced a smile, and nodded his head. When he spoke, that sound, the voice of a Cockney lad, brought up on the streets of London, seemed to echo across the room.

It was all too a recognisable noise. “Hello, brother.”

Perry looked his brother Steven up and down with a pensive uneasiness, unsure of what to say. After all, it had been nine months since the two brothers had spoken to each other. Perry looked him up and down. Nothing much had changed. Perhaps Steven had lost a little weight, but he still recognised him with ease. In fact, Stephen might have looked a little worse. Finally, Perry had the strength to speak, his throat feeling a little constricted. “What are you doing here?”

Stephen offered a weak smile. “Good to see you too, brother.”

“I don’t have time for your games, Stephen. I have a full day of work tomorrow. Did I forget someone’s birthday, again?”

“Not that I am aware of, bro.” Stephen looked down at the floor, almost child-like in his stance. “I just wanted to talk for a bit.”

“Talk? You don’t come here to talk. What’s wrong with your wife?” Perry felt himself losing control again. The voice of his doctor warning him about his blood pressure resonated in his head. Quickly, he started to click his fingers, counting under his breath. “Nine months ago, you and I parted company on bad terms, Steve. If I recall, you wanted to kill me.”

“A sentiment returned, brother, if I recall. You had already sworn to sever my head should you see me again.” Stephen nearly sniggered. “I didn’t come here to fight with you, I swear. I wanted to clear the air before…”

“Before what? Why has it taken you nine months to come and apologise to me?” Angry again, Perry stepped back and bit his lip. “No, you know what? I won’t do this with you again, not after the last time.”

“That’s why I wanted to talk to you. We need get this out into the light, Perry. I need you to know…”

“Look,” Perry barked, holding his hands out. Palm forward, he came forward a step, jabbing a finger at his brother’s chest. “We said all we wanted to say at the barbeque. It was clear I was being pushed into a corner by the rest of the family, and then you came along on your high horse. It isn’t like you are perfect, Stephen.” When he said the name, it sounded like he almost spat the words. The blood boiled in his head. A migraine was coming on.

Stephen reacted as if he was shot in the face. He closed his lips tight, and nodded his head. “I know things ended badly between us, but we are still brothers, and blood is thicker than water.”

“Didn’t feel that way,” Perry argued. “It felt more like you were trying to push me out of the family, in fact.” Shaking his head, Perry felt like slamming the door shut, but for the moment he stood there, his hand trembled on it.

A hand came to his shoulder. “I understand how you feel, Perry. For a long time, I was the outsider of the family, remember? I made poor choices in my life that almost got me killed. I ended up being locked in prison, I missed many years of valuable time I could have shared with my family. I missed you. All of you.” For a moment, Perry was sure he could hear sorrow in his brother’s voice. When he looked up, Stephen’s face was brightly lit. One of the lights above his head must have been malfunctioning again. It looked odd. “Listen to me, Perry. Whatever has passed between you and I, it doesn’t change how I feel about you.” Hesitating, Stephen cleared his throat, then looked up at the light for a moment, as if he saw something there. “You are my brother, and I love you no matter what. But you have all this anger inside you, and you need to find a way to vent that anger, before it kills you.”

Perry had a strange feeling wash over him in that instant. It was as if something had passed through him. He shivered, all over. His arms and legs felt cold. Stephen cocked his head to the side, his hand still on Perry’s shoulder. “I didn’t have the chance to right my wrongs,” he went on. “I kept on riding that dragon until it burned out, and when I came tumbling back down to Earth, it hurt, little brother. I have sores and bruises all over me from the mistakes I have made. Don’t be me. Don’t walk that same path.”

Perry grimaced. “What are you talking about? I am nowhere near as foolish as you ever were! I have never taken drugs, or stolen cars to pay for my sick addiction. You know what really winds me up? When you came home, they opened their arms to you like you were the second coming. How fair was that? I spent… no, dedicated my life to this family, and I ended up on the rubbish tip, like some discarded old fridge!” Perry went to slam the door when he felt a powerful wind push him back. He nearly slipped, keeping his hand on the wooden edge. As if a gust of wind had struck his face, Perry could taste salt in his mouth. He licked his lips, straightening up, knowing his face had turned a shade of red.

Before he could ask what happened, Stephen went on: “It doesn’t have to be like this anymore. Let go. Let it all out. Let the world know how you feel. I did it, and I felt better for it.”

“One of your prison therapists?” Perry spat. “Well good for you. Know what I was doing while you were pouring your soul? I was trying to put this family back together. Dad was losing his mind, blaming himself and mum was desperate to save her firstborn. Neither one of them gave a damn about me trying to keep it altogether up here.” Perry pointed again, his anger rising into his throat. “It was all you. Your fault, not mine, not theirs… yours!”

Then, Stephen simply smiled. “I know what I did was wrong, and I can never change that. I have to accept what I did, but I only ask that you forgive me. I need you to forgive me, Perry. Save your soul, because I can never save my own.”

Perry felt a discomfort in the back of his throat. He gripped the door firmly, and frowned at his brother. Stephen, pouring his heart out, after all this time? He should be able to forgive that, shouldn’t  he? After all, brother love was supposed to be a strong thing in this world. Yet, every time he thought about embracing the man before him, the more his anger seemed to lift from the pit of his stomach. Like a fire reaching into his throat, it swept through his blood. Finally, he snapped.

Perry snarled. “Get out of my house! Don’t come here and tell me what I am feeling! Not after you took everything from me! Everything!” This time, Perry put a lot of force behind him, and shoved hard against his brother, the door closing immediately behind him. For a moment, he stood with his hands on the wood, pressing his palms hard against it, each breath as painful as the last.

Outside, he could still hear the shuffling feet of his brother. “Goodbye, Perry.” For a moment, he thought that was it. Then: “Tomorrow, you will get a letter in the mail. Please read it, just this once, for me. I won’t ask for anything else, I swear.”

Then silence. Perry wanted to open the door and let his brother in, try to fix the damage to their relationship, but he couldn’t move. His head was pressed to the door, his eyes wide open as he stared at his own feet. His heart was pounding against his chest. Nine months. Why now? Why now?

He was startled out of his reverie by the phone ringing. Clutching his chest, he locked the front door, and walked slowly to the phone. As he reached for it, he stopped again. Why was he still feeling as if there was a great pressure pressing down on him? His heart was aching. He wanted to run back to the door and call his brother back, but instinct made him pick up that damn phone. As he pressed the receiver to his ear, he slowed his breathing, long enough to hear the sound of the voice down the other end.

The phone slipped from his fingers ten seconds later. There was no sound as it hit the table, then plummeted to the ground. Eyes wide, Perry spun around and ran for the door, pulling it open so fast, a cold breeze of air rushed into his face. He didn’t stop, looking down the corridor and seeing only darkness. His heart was beating so fast, he could hear the blood rushing to his brain. Above him, the light flickered, ever so lightly, and he remembered it was broken two days before. Down the corridor, only darkness, and an aching feeling in his gut. He tried to call, but nothing came out.

He rushed down the hallway, passing the doors and the odd sounds of the TV coming from each, muffled through the oak barriers. The stairs were clear, and the elevator was still open. Perry nearly collapsed, the weight of his own grief taking over, and he gripped the rail of the stairwell to hold himself up. Below, only darkness. No sounds. No feet on the steps. Nothing.

He was alone.

His apartment felt empty. The phone sat on the floor beneath the table, the sound of the voice on the other end calling his name. He pulled it to himself slowly, using the cord, and stared at it for a moment. Any second now he was going to wake from this dream. But it didn’t come. He was still looking at the phone thirty seconds later when he could hear his mother’s voice down the other end.

Slowly, he lifted the phone to his ear and listened as she confirmed what his father had said. “Stephen is dead… Perry? Can you hear me? He died this morning in hospital… they said he had been stabbed!” Her voice was breaking up as she said it, but Perry couldn’t hear anything. He was looking back at the door, the outline of his brother fresh in his memory. Dead. Stabbed to death. “They’re saying it was one of the people he used to hang around with…” Then his mother’s voice was gone, replaced by the deafening silence in Perry’s own mind.

He fell to his knees, and felt no pain, just holding the phone in his hands. Everything just disappeared all around him, taken over by a ton of grief which seemed to grip his heart so tight, he thought it was going to be ripped from his chest. When he fell to the ground crying, he remembered his brother’s last words. The letter. Asking for forgiveness. Something not even Perry could have given.

The letter?

He didn’t sleep right that night. The phone rang a few times, but he didn’t have the words. Nothing came to his mind. Morning came, but it felt like an eternity had passed. He sat on the armchair, staring into the abysmal downpour outside. Work day. He was numb. He couldn’t think about work. Six messages had been left on his mobile phone, but he waited. Waited. The phone rang at nine. His manager wanted to know where he was, but he let the answering machine get it. Ten, then eleven. The door made a slamming sound, louder than it usually sounded. Jumping out of the chair, Perry spun around and saw letters on the welcome mat. Five. Two from the bank, a circular, a bill and…

He froze.

Sitting on the floor, his brother’s writing on the front, was the letter. It took him three minutes to pick it up, but when he touched it, he was sure he could feel his brother’s mark on the paper. He opened it slowly, trying his best not to damage the envelope or latter inside, then unfolded the paper with ease.

He closed his eyes, preparing himself. Then, he read the letter.

Two words. Two simple words, turning Perry into a blubbering mess by the door, wrapping his arms around himself as the paper fell to the carpet, and looked up at him as if judging him. Perry, through his soaked eyes, the world a blur, read the two words out loudly.

I’m sorry.”

T H E  E N D

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8 Comments
  1. That was a really good read, Daz! A few grammatical errors, but the story itself was good. I really enjoyed it! I’m proud of you, mate!

    • Cheers mate. It was one of the original ones I wrote a few months back and started editing… let me know where some of the grammar problems are later and I will look into making it better 🙂 Thanks for the read

  2. Dan Fecso (@Danarchy29) permalink

    Liked it Daz. The way in the beginning everything, except your feelings, seemed to be normal, but you knew something wasn’t right. I could sorta see early, by your descriptions of your Bro at the door, the light, the wind, that he may have died already. Truely a good read, i enjoyed it, and the message i got was-Sometimes you have to let the anger and resentment go.

  3. Kory McEvoy permalink

    Great story Daz! I really enjoyed it 😉

    • Thank you Kory xxx I have a lot of stuff in my head for writing down, I just need to get a few things right with grammar and stuff, but I am getting help with that 🙂

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